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THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007
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Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com

Jordan Weaver, a fifth grader, and Beth Easterling, a fourth grader, have started publishing a neighborhood newspaper The Johnston Street Journal. Both girls are students at Leon Sheffield Elementary School.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Jordan Weaver, a fifth grader, and Beth Easterling, a fourth grader, have started publishing a neighborhood newspaper The Johnston Street Journal. Both girls are students at Leon Sheffield Elementary School.

News for the neighborhood
2-student operation produces paper

They're a two-girl operation.

They write, edit and publish their weekly newspaper, then deliver it in their neighborhood, the 600 block of Johnston Street Southeast.

And there's no charge for The Johnston Street Journal.

The journalists are Leon Sheffield Elementary School classmates Jordan Weaver and Beth Easterling. Jordan, a fifth-grader, turns 11 next month. Beth, 10, is in fourth grade.

"I didn't know anything about it until they left the first issue in our mailbox," said Marsha Bowling. "It's a fabulous little paper. They're doing an excellent job, keeping us informed of what's going on in the neighborhood."

Beth said the paper was born of a discussion she and Jordan had on job ideas.

"I thought about putting The Decatur Daily on porches for 10 cents a week," she said. "Then Jordan said, 'Or we could do our own newspaper for free.' "

Of course, not much of anything is free. The first three issues of the little newspaper are three hand-printed pages stapled together. They print them on a copier at the home of Ron and Mary Claborn, Jordan's grandparents.

The girls pool funds for supplies by washing cars, selling lemonade and "other stuff like that," Beth said.

Some of their news might be no more than reminders of upcoming events such as setting the clock forward for Daylight Saving Time, St. Patrick's Day, next week's spring break and noting that spring begins Tuesday.

And they tell the neighbors what's happening in delightful ways.

"Have you seen the sticks in people's yards? Well, those are places where people are getting new trees!" a recent issue signaled.

The paper recaps notable sporting events: "Sadly, both Decatur and Austin high schools lost in the state tournament. Alabama also lost its game."

Auburn fans won't like that the story omitted the War Eagles, but Jordan and Beth are open to critique. They list their e-mail addresses for questions or comments.

The Journal publishes a strip of weekly weather forecasts and alerts readers to new movies and new and favorite restaurants. One restaurant spiel didn't go unnoticed by Mandy Backe. She fired off a thank you e-mail to the editors after they spotlighted her restaurant, The Backe Door Gourmet on Grant Street. The All-Wright Bakery on Moulton Street got ink, too.

The paper brings a chuckle with a weekly riddle, the answer following in the next issue.

"I've lived on the street for nine years and watched them grow up," Bowling said of the girls. "They're both so talented."

She had one suggestion.

"I think they could add some artwork, and it would be beautiful."

And since it's their paper, folks shouldn't be surprised if they give themselves a plaudit.

"Beth Easterling's team in basketball went undefeated in Upwards 3rd-4th grade group. Jordan Weaver's team in basketball went undefeated in Upwards 5th-6th grade group."

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Ronnie Thomas Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer

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